Emirates Airlines, From a Dream to One of the Biggest Airlines in the World

Published February 19th, 2019 - 10:40 GMT
Emirates Airline has been recognised as the best airline several times and continues to make profits. (Shutterstock)
Emirates Airline has been recognised as the best airline several times and continues to make profits. (Shutterstock)

In the 37th chapter of his latest book, Qissati, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, reveals how he set up the Emirates airline and its journey to becoming the best in the world. 

By the end of the 1970s, we announced an 'open sky' policy in Dubai to attract airlines. Our target was to enhance competition and to open more sectors in our economy. Gulf Air, which was supported by some countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and operated many trips to Dubai, was worried that some other airlines would benefit from our policy.

Gulf Air's problems with the Dubai airport kept increasing and they asked me clearly and directly to end the open sky policy so that they could protect their market share. They gave us a few weeks to announce it, threatening to withdraw from our airport, which meant the end of 70 per cent of the airport's work. After holding many meetings, I stressed that the policy would never change and that it was essential to the way we work. We reached a dead end and Gulf Air reduced the number of flights to Dubai.

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I hate such disputes, because it is never a smart or civilised way to solve problems.

In 1984, I invited the manager of an aviation company called Dnata in Dubai, Maurice Flanagan, to my office, to discuss with him a dream I always had. I wanted to establish an airline in Dubai.

He was an expert in this field. He made a team and provided me with a plan. The team suggested naming the airline Dubai air, but I said we should name it Emirates Airline and told them to put the UAE flag on the aircraft.

I asked about the cost of launching the airline and they said $10 million. We had six months to launch the new airline. We rented two planes from Pakistan International Airlines and worked on them. The working team asked me to give them special privileges to protect the airline from competition, but I said the policy of open sky would remain.

Today, Emirates Airline has been recognised as the best airline several times and continues to make profits. The total income for the company in 2018 reached $28 billion. It has more than 260 planes and transports more than 60 million travellers annually.Sometimes, companies bring problems upon themselves by fearing competition and results in a competitor pushing them out of the competition.

In what he is calling his "incomplete biography", His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has broken his latest book, Qissati (My Story), into 50 chapters, narrating 50 stories in his 50 years of serving the nation. Khaleej Times got a signed copy of the book from the Dubai Ruler and everyday, we will be featuring excerpts from each of the 50 chapters.


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